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  • Hannah Hinsch

Seawise

Wing over wing, I skim

gray sea choked with rain,

passing slick orca and

rough-throated seals.

Winter flowers at my back;

purple weeds grow on

bleached rocks and drink salt.

Tasting brine and mountain air

I dive,

bursting into foam and fin.

With a new body, I grasp silt,

eyes opening to dark.

A sea turtle languishes.

Reaching for its carapace, I find it

slick with algae old as salt.

It opens its eye and moves away.

It’s cold down here.

Shocks of rough scale,

vinegar and ice, sift

over cheek and tongue.

Hair splaying its fire,

woven with kelp,

I wait. Floating, but never resting.

I suck cold flesh

from dead shells and

learn the language of depth,

how to breathe in brine,

to follow the current at

moon-tide.

A whale is a ship’s helm

in the passing dark.

I imagine Jonah inside its belly,

all of that roaring flesh

wrapping him in womb-dark

while he waits.

Time feels different in the waiting.

A spear of sunlight dapples

my webbed hand, grown used

to the mire.

Sun reaches me even here, where

the only light is from trout skins—

I’ve grown used to that, too.

Bubbles pearling from my mouth,

I rise,

already gasping,

drinking clean air—

unfolding into wings again

with trembling feather.

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